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Friday, May 31, 2013

YE GODS I'M STILL IN FES

FES

The machines within the old city dispense only up to 2000 MAD.  If you have to expose your 'rusty sheriffs badge' to your bank every time you withdraw money (like me) then take care of that within the new town where you can withdraw up to 4000 MAD.  The taxi ride both ways will be approximately 20-25 MAD on the meter.

The metered, regulated 'petite' taxis are unable to go to the airport.  This inconveniently lies just outside of the city of Fes.  Therefore, you are stuck taking the overpriced 'grande taxi' for 120-150 MAD.  If you want to save a couple dirham, take the petite taxi to the train station.  From there, it is reported a cheap bus sometimes goes to the airport.



MOROCCO ON DRUGS

You get offered drugs several times a day.  In one of the cities I was in, I had a conversation with a tourist about it.

Tourist:  "You want some hash?"
Logan:  "Thanks, but I'm really not interested in spending time in a Moroccan prison."
Tourist:  "Hash is legal in Morocco."
Logan:  "Really?  What's your source?"
Tourist:  "Really - it's legal."
Logan:  "Good to hear - but again, what is your source?"
Tourist:  "Um.  The guy who sold me the hash."

I just stared at him like he was stupid.  Don't know because doesn't want to know...



DEATH AND REBIRTH OF THE NETBOOK

My netbook was demanding a systems administrator with a boot disc so I took it down to Abdulla's Computer Shop for him to take a look.  After waiting an hour and a half in front of the shop (confusing the Moroccans) he showed up and tinkered with it for five minutes, charged me 50 MAD and I was on my way.

Were I in the USA, I'd still need to get it fixed to strip the information off it and stick it into a new laptop.

Fuck netbooks.  Never buy a netbook.  You can't play games.  If you're a tourist, you may not have time but as a long term traveler, time is not your enemy.  You need the games.

When I get to the states, I'm going to see if I can afford a new laptop and perhaps get my computer expert friend, Bert, to help me select one.  I'm not sure if he reads this blog but as I type this statement I wonder if he feels that someone has walked on his grave.

When I buy the laptop, I want to paint the top of it some sort of unwholesome color.  Where's your resale value now, bitch?  Planning ahead for thieves.



STRAY CATS

Strays in Fes seem to be 'city supported' pets.  People put out food for them, make homes for them and so on.  To my eyes, this seems very odd indeed.  Especially when there are so many beggars and such.



MOROCCAN ARABIC

This is a pretty weird dialect of Classical Arabic.  It incorporates French, Berber and lots of slang.

Berber itself has three (or more?) distinct dialects.

Here, Classical Arabic is taught in schools and is considered the 'administrative language'.

Every day in Morocco, you get to speak a mixture of English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, etc.



TOUR GUIDES SUCK

Aside from my earlier rants on tour guides, they really suck.  Every day, they gather like priests before the alter of money at the gate to the medina and attempt to either guide or scam (depending if they have their government card - most don't) groups of silly tourists.

A group of three girls was looking like they were lost and I asked if they were looking for a place to stay.  Their price was lower than the one I was at so I couldn't help and move on.  One of the unlicensed 'guides' (read as a multi-lingual beggar) yelled at me helping tourists was not my job.  I laughed at him and moved on.  What a great bunch.  This is why God invented flame throwers.

It is touts like these why there is no camaraderie between tourists in countries like this...

Disclaimer:  I have met some qualified, professional, polite tour guides.  Usually, these are hired well before I see them and potentially before the people have entered the country.  They are expensive but if you are into tour guides, worth it.  Don't use the crap you find loitering around the gate if you are the kind of person who is too lazy to use wiki or just really wants a guide.



GESTURES

Preface - any time I discuss hands, I am talking only about the right hand.  The left hand is not used for anything other than wiping your ass and maybe carrying packages.  That's about it.

A very common gesture people often make when greeting/leaving someone is placing your hand on your heart.  Loosely translated, 'from the heart'.

Sometimes, people will move as if to kiss the hand when it is shaken and the other person usually pulls it away before it can be kissed.  As near as I can tell, the potential kisser is showing extreme affection, the other person is doing the equivalent of 'oh please'...



CRAP FOR SALE

One size fits nobody.  They mass produce the same crap and it's all the same size.  To me this is baffling.  Why are all hats the same size?



BUSINESS CARDS OR BUST

It is amazing how many hotels and hostels either have never thought of business cards or make lame excuses ('we just ran out' is popular) for not having any.  In many countries like Morocco, tourists 'do' the country by traveling to the same half dozen spots.  Clever places have plenty of business cards for tourists to exchange.  Others wonder why they don't have enough business.  Strange.



VIDEOS

Some friends of mine have a daughter named Jaylea.  She just turned twelve years old.  As a small present, I made some lovely videos suitable for children.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5...   (Note, for the slow of thinking those are links to five separate videos...)  While it is true they may be considered somewhat 'Loganesque', they contain no profanity.  Weird, I know.

A special thanks to Conner for help with filming and acting.  No, I don't think this is enough to get your own IMDB page.  Sorry.



COSTS

Ride to the airport:  120 to 150 MAD

Coffee, 6 MAD.  Note, it is always served in very small portions and doesn't seem much stronger than typical American coffee.

Minor computer fix, 50 MAD

Excellent straight razor shave, 20 MAD (+5 MAD tip).  The barber was actually very surprised at how much younger I looked with a shave.  I imagine in the states I will look pretty ancient as I refuse to shave myself any more.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH MIDGETS

WANDERING FES, MOROCCO

Conner and I were wandering around Fes, looking for places for Logan to sit and smoke as well as gifts for Conner to take to his loving family.  He had thought about purchasing a nifty Berber knife for his father.  Unfortunately, the quality is very substandard and most of the ones he examined were stamped 'made in Sweden'.  These things failed to impress Conner.

Therefore his father must cry himself to sleep every night for a year due to having no nifty Berber knife.

Note that because I can neither afford the weight (flying...) nor the cost I am unable to get gifts.  Sorry.

We then decided to go to the famous Fes tanneries we'd read so much about with another tourist we'd met.  The first place told us that the short walk up to the tannery was free but we were required to purchase some item.  What a scam.  The second place had no such restriction.

For a tannery, it stank much less than people would have you believe.  I'm not sure what kind of pansies they write the guide books for but I've smelled much worse.  Hell, a live donkey smells worse.

Shop keepers in Fes range between 'professionally nice' to 'complete dicks'.  One shop keeper told me I had a 'bad heart' because he didn't have a belt as long as I was looking for to wear 'Mexican Bandito' style.  I'd argue that if I had a flame thrower and burned him and his shop down then he could say I have a 'bad heart'.  Wish I had a flame thrower so much...

After manually burning down the shop, we continued our tour of the bazaars.  Everyone has pretty much the same crap.  On the surface, goods may appear to be creative but in actuality there seems to be almost no creativity in this part of the world.  Perhaps centuries ago there was but everyone is still making exact copies of that stuff since.  The prices they sell goods for vary wildly.  A scarf that was 250 MAD in one stall was a mere 50 MAD in another.

The lack of the 'creative gene' seems to extend to food as well.  In general there are four different types of food: 'couscous', a very filling rice dish; 'tangine', stuff baked in a unique clay pot'; meat on sticks and some pie thing with meat inside.  That's about it.  Really.  Everything else is a bad impression of foreign food.

Disclaimer: There may be a wildly creative Moroccan person somewhere.  Haven't yet seen any evidence of them.

Since Conner was flying out the next day, we went looking for a place with better wifi for Logan to live in.  Since I've got to stay over a week here, I decided insanity was a possibility without wifi.  We came across a very out of the way place hidden within the maze known as the 'Medina' (old city).  Compared to the dump we'd stayed in it was palatial.  The usual bargaining and such ensued and ended satisfactorily for all.  The owner demanded and received a down payment for the 'reservation'.

Showing up the next day, I discovered the very nice room I'd reserved was unavailable.  Rather than arguing with the brother I cooled my heels until the lady who I'd spoken with previously returned.  When speaking to the brother and son, odd stories emerged about the guest - how it was the parents or perhaps another guest.  When this sort of situation arises, always speak with the person you'd spoken to previously or get your money back and walk away.

The proprietress returned and put me in a different room for one night at a reduced cost which happened to match the amount I'd left for a down payment.  Promises were made that I'd get the great room at the previously agreed on price once the other guest had moved out.



CONNER QUOTE

(To Logan) "You've corrupted me way too much."



DUO QUOTE

Logan:  "Midgets are better than normal people."
Conner:  "They have all of the goodness of normal people compounded.  It's a question of volume."



PICK UP LINE  (Untested...)

"Lets fuck on a pile of skulls, the way God intended."



WHAT TO DO ABOUT FOLLOWERS

Sometimes you are walking around and a guy wants to attach himself to you or your group to act as an unplanned for tour guide.  The easiest way to ditch him is to either completely ignore him or stop walking and stare menacingly at him every time he tries to walk with you.  Both are considered rude but since this guy is basically a glorified beggar you should take firm action to ditch him.  Sometimes, they curse at you and tell you that if you don't want to talk to Moroccan men, you should have stayed in your own country.  Generally, they are scheming, evil, angry cocksuckers who should have been arrested by the police.  Whatever you do, don't give them money or you may never be rid of them.



ON HAGGLING

If you're not a 'hard bargainer' - or worse yet one of those namby pamby people who don't haggle because it makes them feel uncomfortable, guilty or they are too lazy to - you are regarded by the locals as a 'rich moron with money to burn'.  Amazing how many of them there are around Morocco.



FUN FRENCH FACT

The word for fish is 'poisson'.  Considering how close that is to 'poison', it well illustrates Logan's views on fish.



VIDEOS

Alambra Fortress 1, 2, 3, 4
Conner Capture
Marakesh (Morocco) Market 1, 2
Smell O Vision
Exit from Casablanca
Wake Up in Chefchawen
The Sams



COSTS (Fes)

Coffee and tea, 5 to 10 MAD.   By tradition, the mint tea is served in a sticky, dirty glass.

Room, grotty, 75 MAD/night/person

Room, nicer, 100 MAD/night/person

Room, a little nicer, 125 MAD/night/person including breakfast.  Note, this is an actual breakfast, not the old cereal and toast crap that flies as breakfast in Europe.

Laundry service (with subtle bargaining), 30 MAD

Airport shuttle (though there may be a significant walk with gear uphill out of the Medina involved), 150 MAD

Meal, average, 50-100 MAD including a non-alcoholic drink.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

OUTSOURCING SUICIDE

MOROCCO NOTES

Conner and I had an experience considered very unusual even by Moroccans.  In Esauaria, we had little girls yelling 'fuck you' and throwing rocks at us.

The running joke is getting knifed.  "Sheek!"  There are a lot of times this is used, especially dead end allies.

Prices in Morocco are normally 20% to 50% of the initial asking price, depending on the object you are buying and how good you are at haggling.

A tangeen is a clay dish with a special cover over it.  Conner feels that most of Morocco smells like a mixture of tangeen and cat piss fermented together.

It's a constant struggle to get small bills here.  The big denomination bills are larger so it is possible to hide the smaller ones inside.  When they see only the large ones, they will give you change - but if they spot the small ones, they will demand them.  They do this despite having plenty of small change and the possibility of losing the sale by doing so.  I've no idea why.

Watch your ass if you drive here.  They have cops and speeding traps everywhere.

As with locals of most countries, it is better to speak with ones you have initiated conversation with.  If they approach you, the end result is usually to part you and your money.



CASABLANCA

From the time we arrived till the time we departed this cursed city, I had a very bad feeling about it.

The city itself is an odd contrast of slums dotted with four star hotels.

We got lucky upon arrival and met a tourist in a restaurant named James who took us to the kind of hotel you suspect is haunted by the ghosts of winos.   Fortunately, it was cheap.

There are hotels you worry about getting robbed in.  Others you worry about getting murdered in.  This one you worry about getting possessed by evil spirits in.

Both Conner and I hated Casablanca so much that we agreed watching movies would be a much better use of our time.  We watched the movie Casablanca and agreed that was a much better version than reality even though it was black and white and filled with Nazis.  Conner seemed to enjoy the movie "Top Secret" quite a bit and I was pleased to watch it subtly destroy parts of his brain.

In the actual Casablanca, the only people not yelling at you are ones trying to scam you.  The scammers may yell later, however.  Everyone seemed very angry about having to live there.

We got to watch the beginnings of a fist fight and possible riot after a small fender bender.

The entire time we were there, the sky was overcast and sullen, much like the staff at the place we stayed.  At night, the C.H.U.D.s came out, hungry for human flesh.

Avoiding this city will enhance your Moroccan experience.



THE ATTEMPTED TOILET PAPER HEIST

Conner and I were walking along, minding our own business.  When we got close, one guy started yelling at another and threw a stone in his direction to 'chase him off'.  The guy bumped into me and made a grab for my toilet paper.  Since Logan is a paranoid, suspicious sort, I kept my eighty cents of toilet paper away from the potential snatch artist.  He ran on and we glared at the initiator as we passed.



HOSTEL REVIEWS

Green Milk Hostel (Esauaria):  This hostel was built for and by hippies and upon hippy ideals.  Staying here you very much feel the 'love fest'.  Unfortunately, the walls were either made or painted with something that crumbles to the touch so your bed always feels sandy.  The guitar and bongo drum noises generally end around one in the morning.  The hosts love their work and love having you there.  They make a cheap (15 MAD) breakfast and dinner (35 MAD) so you can live there inexpensively.  This is restaurant quality food in a lively atmosphere.  I recommend booking ahead as it is likely to be full of hippies.  Conner and I would both stay here again.


Federatoion Royale Marocaine des Auberges de Jeunes (Casablanca):  70 MAD dorm room or 150 MAD for a room with two beds.  Bring your own toilet paper as they don't bother to stock any.  Dubious cleanliness and the people working there have long ago lost any interest in being nice or enjoying their work.  After dealing with the dust from the long un-aired room sleep came in the huge echoing building.  Breakfast is included but best avoided.
Picture by Conner Schweitzer of the wonderful showers in this hotel.  They inexplicably turn off the water for a couple hours every day, possibly to allow the cockroaches to breed.



OUTSOURCING SUICIDE

When someone commits suicide, the pain is left with the survivors.  They go through their lives with the hole left by the departed.

No longer.

Now, you can outsource to India for the person.  Lets say someone named (for example) named Jack Grey kills himself.  Now, from India, you can get a new Jack Grey.  He will be trained in (very) basic English, the the approximate size of Jack Grey, wear his clothing and live in his room.

India has many spare people.  It's a natural fit.



THE LOGAN TRAVEL COURSE

Obviously, this can't go on inside western Europe - much too easy there to travel.  You need to take it to a little rougher country where they haggle and such.

The course itself takes about a week and Conner has been kind enough to break down some of the realizations a person makes while being trained:

Day 1 & 2:  Logan is the smartest traveler on the planet.

Day 3 to 5:  The curtain begins to be pulled back.  Logan seems 'slightly eccentric'.

Day 6:  You learn Logan is not actually fluent in many languages.

Day 7:  You learn to apologize for Logan's behavior in the local language.  The realization hits that Logan stumbles through his travels using a mixture of humor and being a dick.



HAGGLING

When the person you are haggling with starts to foam at the mouth, you are getting close to the price.  Also, remember that no matter how low you go, they won't sell it to you if they don't make a profit.



CONNER QUOTES

"We are going to do that - despite if Logan is not inclined to do it.  Especially if he is inclined not to.

(To Logan)  "You're probably  the worst person to be sitting behind the (bus) driver."



LOGAN QUOTES

"Is it considered necrophilia if they are brain dead or do they have to have no pulse?"  (Thanks to Kevin D. for keeping this one alive.)

"Travel is the stories of all of the horrible shit that happens to you.  Everything else is sightseeing."

"Part of travel is getting used to the shit you wouldn't stand for in your own country."



DUO QUOTES

Logan:  "Logan is best in small doses."
Conner:  "That's true.  I definitely had more respect for you in the beginning."



PHILOSOPHY

The limitations people put upon themselves always astound me.  Whereas in America, we destroy strays, they don't in Morocco.  If I was a beggar here starving in the street, I guarantee I'd eat meat every night.  And have a lot of hides to sell.

(From some guy I met on a bus)  "The difference between a traveler and a tourist is that a tourist wants to go back to his native land unchanged.  A traveler accepts the fact he may die in a foreign land."

(From a buy I met at a coffee shop)  "A traveler without information is like a bird without wings."



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Before leaving on a journey, haunt 'army surplus stores'.  Find bags and such that have no emblem on them - they are generally very sturdy.



COSTS (after haggling)

Jellabayah (robe), 200 MAD

Local buses, 4 MAD

Bus to a different town, generally 100-150 MAD

Four pack of cheap toilet paper, 7 MAD

Sunday, May 19, 2013

FUCK RYAN AIR, FUCK IT IN IT'S GOAT ASS


RYAN AIR

While their prices show them as cheaper on line, they delight in finding ways to fuck you once you actually get to the airport and have no escape.  Didn't check in?  Didn't print your boarding pass?  Fuck you, pay 70 EUR.  Don't want to pay?  Can't fly.

The really sad thing is that I'd already booked another Ryan Air flight before finding out about their 'fun and games'.  After I get out of western Europe I'll be free of them - but probably not their spam.



MOROCCO

Fridays are pretty dead in Marikesh.  This is the day most shop keepers take off.  No clue why but they do.

Finding breakfast other than 'bread' is pretty much impossible.  To make matters worse, most of the decent meals aren't cooked until after noon.  Hence, if you have a hostel that serves some sort of breakfast, I recommend eating it rather than striking out for food.



LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON...

Was looking for bandannas in the market.

Logan: "What material is that?"
Seller:  "Cotton!"
Logan:  "Looks like polyester to me."
Seller:  "No!  It is cotton!"
Logan:  (Pulls out a lighter)  "You stand behind your wares?"
Seller:  (Dejected)  "No fire."

Polyester melts, cotton smolders.



DR WATSON, I PRESUME

While traveling with me, Conner has recorded several Logan quotes.  Here are a few:

"A lot of life is figuring out ways to justifying things to yourself."

"Travel (traveling skills) is just a lot of little shit."

"Why do all my fucking quotes have profanity in them?"

To the tourists:  "You know any good restaurants around here?"
Tourist:  "Yeah, there's one in the big bazaar."
Beggar:  "You want good restaurant?"
Logan:  "Nope."

"Because the tightrope is thin, fucking thin, you are only one bad day away from getting mugged, or shot, or having your corpse violated by a camel."

"They see us as poor, stupid or lost tourists...That's perfect!"

"You can always tell how old a woman is by if the dreams have died in her eyes."



CONNER QUOTES

"Logan has had to cultivate his humor just to counteract the amount of concentrated evil he has."

"What's mine is yours...And by that I mean 'don't touch my shit'."

"In the first five minutes of meeting Logan he referred to himself as a 'fat, evil bastard'.  Well, at least he isn't a liar...Oh - wait..."

"It's pretty much a constant state of Logan."



PRELIMINARY RESEARCH OF SOUTH AMERICA

Disclaimers:  This is by no means a conclusive list nor is it necessarily correct.  I went through hostelbookers.com and drew my information from that.  Not until I get to the country can I find out what the 'real deal' is.  Also, you must remember that the listings there are only by the computer literate people.  Since I want internet all the time, that's generally what I go for.

Formatting:  I've listed the country name followed by the name of the cities.  The number after the cities is the price in USD.  If I could not find anything close to my price range, I put an X.  That doesn't mean there isn't anything, just that it's not listed on hostelbookers.com.  Everything is a dorm room unless otherwise noted.  For the cost of a room, it generally seems to be a bit over twice that of a dorm.  Apparently, people are expected to travel in groups of two.

Note, if you feel I've missed something major and can find for sure the current price on the internet, let me know.  Or if I missed a major city of interesting stuff.  Note that I don't claim to yet know anything about central or south America.


Ecuador

Quito, 6-9
Ambato, X
Banos, 8
Cuenca, 9-10
Guayaquil, 10-11
Loja, X
Otavalo, 12 or 15 only
Ibarra, X
Riobamba, X


Venezuela

Nothing


Guyana

Nothing


French Guiana

Nothing


Colombia

Bogota, 7-10
Cali, 10-11
Cartagena, 12-17
Cucuta, X
Manizales, 12 or 20, limited at best
Medellin, 8-11
Pereira, only 1 at 12
Popayan, 10-11
Santa Marta, 6-11


Peru

Lima, 6-8
Cusco, 7-9
Puno, 7-
Arequipa, 6-8
Ollan, 6-12
Manchu Picchu, 12-15
Nazca, 6-12
Mancora, 10-12
Huachina, 4-7
Huaraz, 6-9


Brazil

Brasilia, X
Florianopolis, 12-13
Fortaleza, 10-13
Manaus, 8-12
Porto Alegre, 10-15
Recife, X
Rio De Janeiro, 8-12
Salvador (de Bahia?), 9-13
San Paulo, 13-14


Paraguay

Asuncion, 10
Bella Vista, X
Ciudad Del Este, X
Coronel Oviedo, 10-12 single room
Encaracion, 6, only one
San Bernadino, X


Chile

Santiago, 9-12
Concepcion, X
Iquique 12-15
La Serena, 17 or 20
Valparaiso, 12-14
Vina Del Mar, 12-15
Valdivia, 18-20
Punta Arenas, 16-17


Urugay

Aguas Dulces, X
Colonea Del Something, 14-16
Jose Ignacio, X
La Paloma, 13 or 20
La Pedrera, X
Montevideo, 10-12
Punta Del Diablo, 15-20
Punta Del Este, 13-20


Argentina

Buenos Aires, 8-9
Cordoba, 10-11
La Plata, 15-18
Mendoza, 10
Rosario, 11-12
Salta, 10
San Carlos de Something, X
San Juan,10-14
San Miguel De Something, X

Saturday, May 18, 2013

CLOSING THOUGHTS ON GRENADA AND SPAIN

GRANADA

Here in Granada, got a pretty good hostel going - very comfortable and only six beds in the room. Unless it is a weekend, it's 10 EUR a night. Not bad. And I got very lucky and had another tourist direct me to a place where you can get an insane meal sized tapas for the cost of a drink (2 EUR).

Whoever told me 'Spain is cheap' has an odd version of what 'cheap' is. It's about the same cost as Berlin.

Tapas is generally between 1.50 and 2.50 euros.

Granada is 'pretty handicapped accessible' for those of you stuck in wheelchairs and stuff.

If you have bad allergies, you will die horribly here during cottonwood season.

For the biggest tapas in Granada - possibly the world - go to El Tabernaclo.  Nice.  One is pretty much a meal.  And it's only 2.5 EUR (small drink) or 4 EUR (large drink).  The size of the tapas has nothing at all to do with the size of drink you buy.



ALAMBRA

Within Granada, the 'cherry on top' is called 'Alambra'.  It is literally on top.  Up a big, fucking hill.  After several panting rest breaks we made the top.  At this point, I discovered a nice gentle road was behind it that I could have gotten a taxi up.  Irritating.  The irritating thing about this place is that only a certain number of visitors are allowed in per day.  My buddy Conner had gone very early and gotten the full ride ticket (roughly 13 EUR).  I showed up much later and got a ticket for about 8 EUR.  Little did I know that it allowed access to everything except one special place.  According to Conner, the special place was only worth it if you were really into the rest of the architecture.  As it was, I got burned out seeing stuff with an 8 EUR ticket.  My advice would be to pay for the big ticket if you can get it and to not stress it if you can't.  The place itself was an old garden for some monarch.  The actual garden was destroyed years ago and this one is fairly new - but they did a nice job with it so it's nice to see.

Within Alambra, you can see unlicensed guides plying their trade.  Real guides have special badges they wear around their necks.  If you get an unlicensed guide, they can't talk during many parts or they get busted.  They explain to gullible tourists that there is 'some problem'.

Naturally, Alambra is a 'tourist circus'...  Asian tourists come in packs of fifty plus.  No idea why, probably a cultural thing.

The days of the backward walking, loud talking tour guide are over.  These days, the tour guide wears a mic and everyone else one (sometimes two) headphones.

The whole concept of a tour guide has always baffled me.  I'd love to quiz people on the tour to see what percentage of information they actually retain.  If they got hit with a cattle prod for retaining under 10%, there would be a whole lot of stunned people.  Never had a tour guide myself, if there is interest wiki will tell me.  Haven't bothered to wiki though.  My strategy of 'bug the natives" seems to work well.  Disclaimer:  Someone like Pete H can take the tour once and recite it back.  I know.

For the really rich people there is 'Hotel America' right up next to Alambra.  Overheard that it is 400 EUR a night.  Wow.

As far as the town and all, it was a bit tame for me.



SPAIN

Spanish people like to keep their own schedule - even if they are working in the tourist parts of Spain.  Illogical and counter productive.

Drinking in Spain - not cheap.  Recommend a different country if you are wanting to get blotto...



MOVING ON

While I was in Spain, I met a guy named Conner.
He's a clever eighteen year old who is interesting in learning the art of long term travel.  It's his first time out of the USA.  While I don't really consider myself an expert, I do think I've developed some skills I'm happy to pass on.  We teamed up and have made our way to the more exotic Morocco.  Spain was way to blase for me.

Bit of danger should do him some good.

Hopefully, my visa will still be active when it is time to go back to Germany to fly out.  If it isn't, I'm fucked.  Stay tuned!



OTHER WEIRD STUFF

I got directions from a blind man.  Not kidding.  Sadly, Conner and Elenor were snickering in the background which threw it a bit.  I wasn't trying to be a dick, mind you.  Yes, I am a dick but I'm not normally one to mess with the blind but he got between me and the guy I was going to ask directions from.



PHILOSOPHY

Was talking to a girl who is living in Spain. She lives here in order to learn Spanish. I asked why, she didn't know.

Call me old fashioned but my first thought was 'Are you hoping to marry someone with a useful job?'

It's always amazing when I talk to people who are studying something because 'they like it' and have no plans on how it can become a useful career. And it often can't. Or doesn't. No plans, just taking what looks good at the moment.

True that I'm traveling that way but it's not really a good direction to go for a career...



TRAVELER'S TIPS

For those interested:  When I'm in Europe, this is how I now go about figuring out where I want to go and stay.

Step 1:  List all of the major tourist towns in my notebook.  These can be found on wikitravel.  I've found that in general the non-tourist towns a) are dull - not much to see in many of them b) actually cost more than the tourist towns simply because they don't have the infrastructure.  Where you can find several hostels in a city or major tourist town you can only find business class hotels in small out of the way places.  In short, they end up costing more and there is less to see.  Yes, the food and such is much cheaper but where you stay will always be a large percentage of your daily expense.

Step 2:  Go onto hostelbookers (or hostelworld, etc) and check out prices for the weekends.  Some hostels like to play underhanded games with the prices - raising them on the weekends, when there is only one room left, etc.  So I look for the 'worst case scenario'.   List the price range on the list of cities page.

Step 3:  Disregard any town that is out of my price range (unless it has something I REALLY want to see - haven't seen that yet but I'm allowing for it) and consider the remaining towns.

Step 4:  Read up on the towns or better yet, google them then select images.  That gives you a pretty good glimpse of the kinds of stuff you will probably see in that town or at least what other people thought was worth taking a picture of.  For example, I  was pondering going to Cordoba.  About a third or more of the pictures seemed to be stripped arches.  To me, this means it is the main thing people found interesting there - enough that a crap ton of people have taken pictures of it.  Do I care about 'stripped arches'?  Not enough to justify $20 per night just to sleep in a frigging dorm.

Step 5:  Figure out logical routes between the places you've priced.  If they are too far apart, figure out if there is anything in between and re-run the steps for some of those things to see if you can break up a long travel time.  In general, I don't suggest more than six hours on a bus or train - less if you are frail constitution or very old - like Tim Van Theemsche who has both.

There may be better ways to do this, but I haven't discovered them yet.  Wanted to put this up in hopes that it is of use to someone.



PLAYING JASON BOURNE

Right now, I've got seven different currencies on me.  Doubt I'll be able to get them exchanged for any reasonable price and who knows - I might be able to go back to some of those countries eventually.



WEIRD TERMS

Other travelers have used these terms:

"Logan style"
"Loganism"

This is funny as it's not the first time I've heard them from travelers without any prompting.



PRELIMINARY RESEARCH OF CENTRAL AMERICA

Disclaimers:  This is by no means a conclusive list nor is it necessarily correct.  I went through hostelbookers.com and drew my information from that.  Not until I get to the country can I find out what the 'real deal' is.  Also, you must remember that the listings there are only by the computer literate people.  Since I want internet all the time, that's generally what I go for.

Formatting:  I've listed the country name followed by the name of the cities.  The number after the cities is the price in USD.  If I could not find anything close to my price range, I put an X.  That doesn't mean there isn't anything, just that it's not listed on hostelbookers.com.  Everything is a dorm room unless otherwise noted.  For the cost of a room, it generally seems to be a bit over twice that of a dorm.  Apparently, people are expected to travel in groups of two.

Note, if you feel I've missed something major and can find for sure the current price on the internet, let me know.  Or if I missed a major city of interesting stuff.  Note that I don't claim to yet know anything about central or south America.


Mexico

Mexico City, 10-13
Acapulco, X
Cancun, X
Guadalajara, 9-13
Monterrey, 10-12
San Luis Portosi, X
Taxco, X
Tijuana, X


Belize

Nothing


Guatemala

Antigua, 5-9
Coban, 15
Guatemala City, 11-15
Lake Atitlan, 5-7
Livingston, 6-7
Panajachel, 8-12
Peten, X
Quetzaltenango, 10, not much there.
Tikal, X


El Salvator

Juayua, X
La Libertad, 9
Playa Sandiego, X
San Salvador, 8
Santa Ana, X


Honduras

Copan Ruinas, 5 dorm, 11 single
Roatan Island, 11, only 1 hostel
San Pedro Sula, X


Nicaragua

Esteli, X
Granada, 10, not many places
Jalapa, X
Jinotega, X
Leon, 6-12
Managua, 11, only one place
San Jorge, X
San Juan Del Sur, $15, not many places


Costa Rica

San Jose, 5-11
Cartago, X
Dominical, 11
Alajuela, 12-13
Heredia, 7-18
Liberia, X
Puerto Limon, X
Puntarenas, X
Quesada, X


Panama

Bocas Del Toro
Boquete, 9-11
David City, only one at 10
Los Santos, X
Panama City, 11-13



CLOSER TO WHERE I CURRENTLY AM (but am not going...)


Portugal

Lisbon, 12-13
Avairo, 21
Braga, 21
Coimbra, 17-20
Evora, 20-22
Funchal, X
Guimaraes, 18-22
Porto, 11-13
Viana do Castelo, 6 (only one place!)



COSTS

For about 5 EUR you can get 3 tapas, enough for a meal in most places.  The beer is served in tiny glasses - they say so it doesn't get warm.  The beer here is nothing special.

Large glass of 'summer wine', 4 EUR.  Very nice - try that for sure.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

EATING SPAIN

FORWARD PLANNING


Pondering what to do in Spain.  I've been wandering around Granada for several hours.  It's OK but not great.

After traipsing around for four or five hours working on breaking in my new shoes, I'm doing the Spanish custom of 'siesta' and hanging out on the computer doing research for a few hours trying to figure out what is next.

I'm wondering why people always refer to Spain as 'cheap'.  It's close to the same price as Berlin.  It's true that Berlin is cheaper than some cities in Europe (like Munich) but it's not 'cheap'.

Perhaps my barometer of what is 'cheap' and what isn't is a bit skewed.

So, I did some more research on the region of Spain I find myself in and have found that the only cities that are within my price range - and moderately interesting - are Granada -> Cordoba -> Seville -> Cadiz.  I'm going to do some more poking around and see if I can figure out what seems interesting for me here.  Honestly, it is OK but I feel like either I haven't yet found 'the good stuff' or I've been spoiled by already having been to lots more exotic places and this just isn't floating my boat.

After that, if I wanted to I could spend about 30-40 euro to get a boat into Morocco.

After some fairly exhaustive research into Morocco, however, I've only found two (yes two) cities which are actually affordable in terms of accommodation.   For those interested, the cities are Fez (AKA Fes - no, I don't know why) and Marrakech, which seems freakishly cheap compared to the rest of Morocco.  Again, no clue why.

So, this brings me to 'how bad do I really want to see Morocco'?  Due to the political situation in Algeria (screwed up) it's kind of on it's own.  I couldn't go to say Tunisia from there to slaughter Jawas.

Note if I had $100 per day to spend (or better still 100 EUR as the dollar isn't worth crap these days) then doubtless my options would drastically open up but I have less than half of that.

And, from what I've talked to other travelers about it seems that the Central and South American countries have gotten all modern - hence expensive.  Extensive research will be needed for those as well to see what is possible.



PRICES

Four tapas (including approximately 300 ml of beer), 6.80 EUR.  Would recommend the tapas at "El Tabernaclo."  Note that you get better tapas if you sit at the bar and chat with the cook.  In some establishments, it is also cheaper if you are sitting at the bar.





VIDEOS

Logan and the ruins
The Da-Logano Code
Young Protesters














Friday, May 10, 2013

BERLIN TO SPAIN PDQ

BERLIN

Years ago when I lived in Germany, it was pretty much all Germans.  Berlin seems extremely racially diverse.  I hope it's amazing and wonderful for them.  Me, I don't really care where people live so long as they can sell me tasty food and such.

As in many countries, the number for emergencies is 112.  Personally, I think the UK has it right with 999.  A good number to hit while you're panicking.

My overall thought on Berlin, "Nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there."  Too manicured and perfect.  Give me rubble and old bullet holes any day.

As I was leaving Berlin, seven taxi drivers at the airport were attempting to get a Frisbee down from a tree.  After five minutes they succeeded.  Two inexpert throws later and the Frisbee was lodged in the only other tree in the area.



TRAVEL TO SPAIN

I'd wanted to  avoid flying and go by train.  Not only does it cost more, but everything is booked up.  Screw buying the couple month pass for a lot of money if you can't even get on the train!



ARRIVAL IN SPAIN

Back to palm trees in this sun bleached land.  After messing around with the bus and eventually sucking it up and paying for a cab, I found that the hostel I'd read so much about was 'all out of the cheap rooms'.  Strike one.  Then, I find out that tappes isn't served free with beer in Malaga.  Decided immediately to leave Malaga after only one night in this expensive tourist town.

Decided to go to Grenada which I'd heard about  from a fellow tourist quite some time ago.  We'll see if it lives up to the stories.



SPANISH LANGUAGE

It is killing me to try to dredge up all of my old Spanish speaking skills.  On top of that, I am trying to default to Georgian.  Not a clue why - there are no similarities between the languages.  It's going to take some time to acclimate.



SPENDING

After going through the pain of saving money for seven plus months, I've found that I am more loathe to piss it away.  I'm still pissing it away - I'm just more loathe about it.



GEAR

My current gear continues it's rapid disintegration.  My 'goes with me everywhere' bag has been decomposing very quickly.  It's held together with paper and safety pins.  It's amazing how fast things fall apart when you travel.  Even my backpack has started to look pretty rough.  At least now I know what kind to get.



BAG WEIGHT

For those keeping track it is down to 13.5 KG.   This is good because my belly is still up ten or more kilos.



MATT MATT MATT, MADDATT!

It's looking like my good buddy Matt may be joining me in Spain for a weekend.  Long time readers of the blog will remember him as the meat cleaver wielding 'Sato Boot' (white ghost) from Nepal.   I'm hoping that this visit we won't be trying to bury a hooker out in the desert.



FILM REVIEW - DJANGO UNCHAINED

Although I always find Quinton's 'ultra-violence' great fun, this movie seemed to drag on forever.  I'd have been happier for the best fifteen minutes and the rest cut.  I've got nothing against character development provided it is done in an interesting manner.  This wasn't.



DAEMON QUOTES

"Logan puts the 'ass' into 'ambassador'."
"Logan is an 'evil Buddah'."



PRICES

Weird off brand 8 pack of triple A batteries, 1.50 EUR
Energizer 8 pack of triple A batteries, 3 EUR
New, hopefully better MP3 player upgrade, +25 EUR.  It got expensive quick.
Full city public transport ticket, all zones, 7 EUR
Lovely steak dinner with baked potato, 17 EUR
Pack of smokes, 5 EUR

Sunday, May 5, 2013

LOGAN'S ILL FATED EUROPEAN ADVENTURE

NOTES ON TBILISI AIRPORT

You can enter and hangout within the tiny airport as long as you want.  If you want to smoke, you can do so outside or even in the lamest Burger King in the world.   This BK has no beef, no shakes and very little to commend it.  Less if you are a non-smoker.  There is a fairly heavy police presence around the airport so you get less beggars and they are all on the outside.

Remember, unless you want to lug around completely useless foreign currency in your own game of "Jason Bourne", get rid of your Lari (GEL).  Outside of Georgia they are as welcomed as a truck load of dead rats in a tampon factory.

The weight of the 'big bag' (for those keeping track) is down to 14.3 KG.  Less is always better.



ARRIVAL IN LATVIA

Down to my last pen as the changing air pressure of the plane caused more small explosions.

Customs was a breeze.  The lady looked through my passport, wordlessly swiped it and handed it back.  That is the easiest time I've ever had in entering the EU.  I waltzed through the 'nothing to declare' line reading my notebook for what bus to catch.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell they were wanting to stop me but didn't.  It's rude to interrupt someone reading...  Yes, that was planned.  With a soccer ball worth of medicine in my bag and double or triple the legal number of cigarettes I wasn't anxious for them to have a look.

By the time I arrived in Latvia, my hands were literally shaking with fatigue.

To their great credit, none of the taxi drivers at the airport tried to hawk their cabs at me.  It shows a lack of sophistication and a dearth of poverty when they do.

Before my tale of woe and nice people who tried to help, I'd like to point out that the lat is the most valuable currency I've ever come across.  It's roughly two US dollars to buy one lat (LVL).  Wow, that sucks.  And a five is the smallest bill.

Since I'd done a little homework I'd discovered there was a 3 LVL shuttle that took people from the airport to their hostels.  Climbing on that, I didn't realize it was the last thing to go right for me in this country.

In the not too distant mother Russia, they have a holiday called "May Day".  Guess what day it starts?  Yes, the same one I'm Latvia.  This is a huge problem because Russians seem to celebrate this day by all leaving their country and going to other Russian speaking countries.  Like Latvia.

Everything was full.

I managed to get booked for one night at a hostel but that was it.  The "May Day" celebrations last about a week and a half.  Everything up to the 70 EUR per night hotels was booked solid.  Since I start freaking out when I have to pay 10 EUR for a place to sleep, 70 EUR was a bit beyond my budget.  And made me squeal like a pig.

Honestly, I was too stressed out to do much sightseeing but what I saw was a clean, modern city.   There was even a 'Cinnabon'.  Yes, I managed to resist it.  In hindsight, should have gone.  Lot of changes from Georgia.  Cars stay in their own lane.  Pedestrian crossings weren't just put there because they had extra paint left over.  The buildings were built with skill and aren't in danger of collapse.  They even have fire escapes.

Perhaps there is no clearer symbol of 'first world' as opposed to 'third world' countries than the lowly fire escape.  If you don't have one, it sends a message.  That message could be you live in a single story house.

So I wandered around fretting.  A friend of mine in Georgia has some extremely nice people who are very good friends of his in Riga and they said not to worry - they would find a place.  They looked for hours without success.  They did feed me and give me beer though.  While sitting in their establishment (which will be undergoing a name change to "Rockabilly House") I got to see something very unusual.  Though the surprise is probably a bit destroyed by mentioning the name of the establishment.

"Pete Anderson and the Swamp Shakers".  This was a four piece 'rockabilly' combo that operated with a great deal of enthusiasm.  Not bad music either.  Yes, when they found out I was from the states I got to talk to the leader a bit.  He asked me questions like if I could sing or play an instrument.  No.  Hell no.  I couldn't help but thinking as I sat around watching them play that if the USSR had kept going for another few years they would be sneaking out to play 'decadent western rock and roll music' while working a day job in factory number seven.

It's amazing how much American music they play there - and different from Georgia where they seem to play the same twenty Georgian songs over and over.

After accepting I would not be able to stay in Latvia, the great idea of 'duck into a nearby country and wait for the soviets to bugger back off home' came to mind.

Full.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and even Poland were full.

What the hell.

It  was saddening not only to leave Latvia but to realize my entire plan had been blown.  Perhaps it would have been a lot cheaper had I gone with my original plan and gone to Spain along the northern coast of the Mediterranean.  Perhaps not.

So, it looked as though I'd have to push on to Berlin.  I had a vague feeling I wanted to go to Berlin.

Back in the old days, before the internet, Logan worked in army intelligence.  Note to my Georgian readers, this does not mean I am currently CIA.  It is a Georgian  pastime to accuse various Americans of working for the CIA.  Sadly, they don't seem good at this game.  Anyway, for anyone who has ever worked in the intelligence field during the Cold War, Berlin had a special mystique.

Spy swaps, spy vs spy, the Berlin Airlift and all of those shadowy things happened there.  I know that is all in the history books but I was hoping to catch just a whiff of the old spirit.

Nothing.

My trip isn't starting off very well.



IMPORTANT NOTE FOR TOURISTS IN THE BALKANS

If you are going to go in May and June (yes, another Russian holiday then), pre-book.  I'm not exaggerating.



BERLIN

Berlin turned out to be just another ultra modern city.  If any of the old, intriguing Berlin still exists, I've not yet found it.  I've still got a couple days left to look for it but it's probably not there.

On the good news, I've blown a whole bunch of money (70 EUR) get some new shoes.  The cheap Georgian tennis shoes I'd purchased literally caused me to think I was growing spikes through the bottom of my feet or they were on fire somehow.  The new shoes are gaudy and ugly.

I also decided that since the battery wasn't charging in my MP3 player (which is used daily) it was time to get a new one.  Tomorrow, I will return it and try to get a better one that doesn't shut itself off at random.



PHILOSOPHY

It's always baffling to me when someone is traveling for a month or so how they love to yack on skype. When they're with a group, they have the same conversations they would at home. Not really much of a vacation...

To those who want to do the overly protective, 'their family and friends would worry' sappy drivel, just think "What happened before cell phones or even the cable under the ocean for transatlantic calls?" Well, they traveled anyway - that's what. And they had new stuff to talk about when they got home because they didn't discuss it nightly...



PRICES

Georgia:

Burger King chicken sandwich, onion rings and a can of pepsi, 26 GEL.  Wow.


Latvia:

Dorm bed, 7 LVL cheapest though many are 10 LVL

Cafeteria meal I got sick after eating, 5 LVL


Berlin:

MP3 player that doesn't work, 30 EUR


Saturday, May 4, 2013

THE ART OF GAME DESIGN

GAME DESIGN

I'm going to write down some thoughts on game design.  

Mark Rein-Hagen designed the wildly popular 'Vampire the Masquerade' game.  He was also involved with 'Magic the Gathering'.  That's the guy I worked for during a couple months and tried to learn from.  Disclaimer:  He wasn't trying to teach me game design - we were working on games.  The stuff I've put down here are things I believe I've gleaned from him.  In fairness to him, I may be completely off on some of the stuff.  Up to him to correct me if he wishes.

For posterity, the games I've worked on include:  

Succubus - party game involving specialty playing cards.
Victoria - a board game.
I Am Zombie - a revolutionary new roleplaying game.

What I think I've learned from Mark Rein-Hagen:

1.  You have to build up a good amount of various useful contacts.  These include such people as artists, musicians, film editors, writers, editors, etc.  Game design is a team sport.  Unfortunately, all of these people will require paying.  

2.  The person who will be designing the game risks several thousand dollars in capital.  But what of Kickstarter?  Yes, this money is spent well before going onto Kickstarter.  You have to have a working game beforehand.  Also, art sells the game.  Art is amazingly expensive.  For something the size of a playing card, I've been told the usual price is $100.  Holy crap.  If someone were to ask me "How much money should I start with?"  I'm going to guess at $5000.  No clue how much profit this could roll into with a successful Kickstarter, but it could be a nice amount.  The money part I didn't really get involved with, other than being an ongoing cost.

3.  When Mark worked, he set himself a very tight deadline to complete enough of the game to appear on Kickstarter.  Keep in mind that you have to make the game then play test it a lot.  Other groups have to sign NDA (non disclosure agreement) forms and play test it.  If you are able to silently watch them play, so much the better.  If you try to help talk them through it, you get skewed data.   Most folks agree that a year or longer is needed to develop a game.  Mark chopped the time frame down to three months and compensated by working fifteen hours a day on it.

4.  When giving assignments to writers, you have to be extremely specific.  The more general you are, the less usable the result.  If these writers are in daily meetings with you, the vision can be more easily shared.  If not, be even more specific in your writing assignments.  By specific I mean you have to make an outline then ask them to flesh it out.

5.  Art sells games.  I've mentioned this before but Mark mentioned it often enough that it deserves it's own bullet point.  Mediocre art means you sell less or not at all.  This is why you have to pay big bucks for professional artists.  Trying to get your friend 'who can draw' to make art will handicap or destroy your game.

6.  Always think in terms of monetization.   The role playing industry is pretty much crippled because as soon as a book comes out it is scanned and put onto torrent sites.  If all you are printing is a book, you won't make much for it.  This also goes for movies, audio books - anything that is easy to turn into data.  Sure, there are a few honest people and collectors out there but not enough to fully fund your project.  And yes, many people spend a lot of time bitching that it shouldn't be this way.  Guess what?  It is.  Deal with it and think outside the box.  This is one of the reasons the roleplaying game "I Am Zombie" uses a dynamic character sheet comprised of playing cards.  Sure, someone could try to print out crappy copies of the cards in black and white and they could be used but the cards aren't that expensive and will look and feel so much better to use that buying them will make more sense.   Also, special poker chips are used which have many words printed on them for skill bumps.  And other things.  Very crafty, clever thinking on Mark's part.  The important thing for gamers will be that it combines into a solid game.

7.  Like all roleplayers, I've spent time working on game systems - whether new ones or altering existing ones.  The conversations would go wildly off track, degenerate into Monty Python jokes and so on.  Mark didn't allow this.  We worked hard and kept focus on the game.  Churn, churn, churn.  Whether we were driving, shopping or eating when we were on the clock we were expected to be working.

8.  You can't hype a game too much before Kickstarter comes out.  Get ten thousand people eagerly awaiting it's appearance and you are most of the way there.  Less than that it may be stillborn.  


In conclusion:  If you are wanting to develop a professional game for publication that actually earns money, it is a lot more work than altering a few rules of an existing game with your friends.  A lot more has to be ready before kickstarter than I thought.  Prepare yourself for hard work and significant financial risk.  When you think it's done, hype hype, hype...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

REGICIDE

LEAVING GEORGIA

Lots of people live for years in one place.  I lived for years in a state I really mostly hated - Illinois.  Hell, that was a decade.  After extensive travel, some people come to despise it.  I went the other way.  Seven months in Tbilisi, Georgia seemed like forever.

When you need to save up money, sometimes there is no other option.

The jobs caused me to sit around rather than wander around.  Logan got fat.  Again.  Or, as some would say "Reverted to his natural form".   Gods help me when I return to the USA.  Mt Vesuvius belly.

Affordable alcohol and sweets are a dangerous combination.



LUXURY APARTMENT

Of all of the places I've stayed so far, the $450 per month luxury apartment is high on the list.  Literally everything I needed was in there.

Only two downsides, both related to the gas heater.  First, if you left the kitchen window closed when using gas, the house fills with gas.  Possible death.  Definite downside.

The second problem with the gas heater is that the genius that built it didn't put any sort of cover on it.  When the wind blows, it goes out.  Quite a bummer if you are in the middle of the shower for the water to go from 'nice and hot' to ice cubes.

Hell no I never used gas to cook.  Didn't cook.  If food in a country is too expensive to eat out, I will fucking switch countries.  There is no need for Logan to cook.



PEOPLE OF GEORGIA

They're pretty nice.   I like them and would go back.

Sure, everyone likes to dress in black (not joking) and wander the streets unsmiling but it's almost like this is an automatic defense mechanism against the hordes of beggars and the KGB ghosts which haunt the streets.

Not a clue if it should be considered 'can do spirit' or people fighting on despite tools, training or competency but a saying I developed for Georgia is "If you don't have the right tool, any will do."

They have some weird beliefs.  Very weird.  Stay the hell away from doctors and politely ignore anyone who wants to give you any medical advice.  These things seem handed down from the same folks who brought western Europeans the 'knock on wood' beliefs.   It's easy to look at another countries' beliefs and say "Gosh, they believe in some goofy shit" but when I run into these strange beliefs it makes me wonder about my own programming.  What unquestioned yet erroneous beliefs have I?

Business beliefs and practices within Georgia also defy rational explanation.  Hidden, unlabeled stores.  No change in cash registers.  No customers, no problem.  Totally baffling.  Though labor is cheap here, rent and bills aren't.  How these are paid for is a mystery.

Most people live with their families in homes everyone was given after the collapse of the USSR.  This is handy because the wages people are paid wouldn't pay for rent.



RETURN OF THE GEORGIAN (SINCE JEDI IS COPYRIGHTED)

When discussing Georgia with Mark Rein-Hagen, he mentioned a mutual acquaintance would return to Georgia and that people often returned to Georgia.

"Why is that, do you think?" I queried.
"Dunno." he replied.  "There is just something about Georgia."

I concur.

Especially if Mark has more game design work for me.



YOU AND GEORGIA

Should you choose to visit Georgia and see it's wonderful outdoor scenery, experience the warmth of the people and hunt in frustration for hidden shops on roads without street signs some advice.

Seeing Tbilisi itself is one to three days depending upon your interest.  It is also a good 'jumping off' point for hitting many outlying areas.

Though there is at least one place with good skiing, tourism in Georgia is a summer thing.  Roads get blocked and closed quickly in the winter making much of the country inaccessible.

I've never even heard rumors crime of Georgians against foreigners.



LEAVING ON A JET PLANE...AGAIN

People bitch about having to wait for two or three hours for a flight.  Fuck them.  Because it was a bit more convenient for a couple people, I showed up at the airport eight hours early.  Eight.

Georgia drew the short straw in terms of when their flights arrive and leave - between three and six in the morning.

For those keeping track, everything I own is down to 14.3 KG.



REGICIDE

While maintaining my vigil, Burger King snared me with it's siren call.  They have one at Tbilisi Mall as well that was pretty good - though very expensive.  The BK at the airport was amazing in it's 'suck-a-tude'.

No beef.  They weren't 'home of the whopper'.   Makes me think they bought an 'indulgence' from the home office king to carry on despite wild incompetency.

Figured perhaps a shake would take the edge off.

No shakes.

The only good thing (for me) - smoking was permitted there.

Die, King, die.



COSTS

Taxi to the airport, with additional stop; 20 GEL.
Shitty, overpriced, don't have beef Burger King, 25 GEL.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

FUCK BEGGARS

FUCK BEGGARS

I was sitting in Mark's car waiting for him to get back.  A beggar came 'a beggin' to the window.

As those who have been keeping up with my travels and such know, I have a pretty good ability to understand what is going on despite not speaking many languages fluently.

The guy tried begging in Georgian then in Russian.  I played the 'no comprende'.   The beggar than held up a coin to indicate what he wanted.

I put on a big shitty grin and held out my hand.  With a shrug, the beggar gave it to me.  I made noises of approval and he moved off.

'Francois', who was in the car, was amazed I was able to get money out of even beggars.

To me, this incident drove home three points:

1)  It is not always good to be able to 'understand' other languages (even if you do).
2)  I hate beggars.
3)  I am a complete bastard.

I came across much more pathetic beggars during my three months in India and didn't give them even one rupee.  Here, the beggars are often dressed better than I am.

Fuck beggars.



ENGLISH

English has got to be a rough language to learn. Even a single changed word can alter the entire meaning of a sentence. Consider:

"It takes a village to raise a child."
Meaning: This addresses social responsibility (as well as perhaps the impact of environment) in regards to children.

"It takes a village to make a child."
Meaning: Village orgies.






PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

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